A Cycle – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Tiime 17

There are many times when the gospels seem to be hard to believe Jesus intended us to do what they say. Parents worry about their children every day. Fathers and mothers worry about having enough money to shelter, clothe, feed and take care of their families.  If you know your child has a serious health problem you worry about insurance coverage while worrying about if they will overcome their battle.  Tell me you do not worry about income, physical problems, relationship problems, and yes even how others perceive you. 

Yet Jesus tells us today that none of this can ever change by worrying about them.  We know he is right but we cannot stop being anxious and concerned can we.  Should we just take Jesus at his word and just let the chips fall where they will?  Can we change what is basic instinct for us to care about those we love?   The birds of the sky Jesus talks about are moved by pure instinct without the ability to reason. God knows he created us to love, to be compassionate, to give up our lives for our friends and at times for strangers. We know what we should do but we so easily get off track and get anxious about so many things.

I know from experience we do change when we embrace Jesus as Lord.  I know there are certain drives we have that are often misdirected to satisfy self before we even think of how far we have deviated from God’s desire.  Jesus tells us clearly he is the way and the truth and the life and there is no other way to satisfy our hunger except by allowing him to show us how to live according to his will. 

God tells us he will never abandon us nor forsake us.  Do we believe he is present when we are standing in the midst of the disaster overwhelming us?  I am not certain we do but there is a way for us to discover this truth.  It begins with a simple desire to know you are loved by God just as you are – weak, uncertain, overwhelmed, confused, sinful and yes lost in a world that is devoid of anything except deceit. Lost In a world that has sold you on a lie promising you happiness if you only give up your worrying about anyone else except yourself. 

This brothers and sisters give us a clue that it is ok to worry about taking care of those we love because we are doing it out of love.  It is not our desire to have things for things sake but we do want to have those we love understand they are just things. We want them to understand that money, clothes, gadgets, etc. are not important for us to be joyful and filled with peace. 

The way to live unattached begins with us identifying with the prodigal son and going before the father and telling him we have squandered every opportunity he has given us for the sake of satisfying our own selfishness.  This is what it means to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  This is what it means to repent and turn back to the Lord.  It is a good place to start your Lenten journey to that joyous gift of the resurrection – “he became sin for us so that we might become the very righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21).  We are now in right standing with God because our sins are forgiven and forgotten as God promised us.   

The next step is to accept the fact we are called to be a witness in this world and to live in it and yet be apart from it.  Jesus came to earth to not only die for our sins but to establish a kingdom on earth where we will find joy in the midst of tragedy. It is in this kingdom on earth that we will find how deeply God loves us and how precious we are in his sight.  It is in this kingdom where we begin to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and die to self so that we might find the truth of our heritage as heirs to the promise of God.  It is in this kingdom Jesus established on earth that we will discover the power of God at work in us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

When we take those first steps to be embraced by God we will discover that Jesus really does mean for us to not be anxious and afraid because he has overcome the world.  We will discover the truth that we are truly on a journey toward the heart of God.  A journey that is full of uncertainty and setbacks but knowing that we are never alone – for God is with us always.  That is his promise. The only issue for us is do we believe his promise and we need to begin living like we believe.

If we can do that, our faith will be a light to others who are struggling with the disasters of daily life.  We can by word and example begin to unfold the truth of the gospel for them so that they can discover the God who holds them in the palm of his hand.   

It begins with us believing and understanding we are forgiven and made whole by the death of Jesus Christ.  It grows and builds into a new way of living by the working of the Holy Spirit in us transforming us into sons and daughters.  We need to stop trying to do it our way and allow God to show us a better way to live and enjoy the presence and blessings of God each and every day.

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